Rugby Pi­u­tau looks set to miss World Cup in Japan

Bristol Post - - SPORT - Ai­dan MCCARTNEY ai­[email protected]­plc.com

IT looks very un­likely that Charles Pi­u­tau will be play­ing in the World Cup. The Bris­tol Bears star is des­per­ate to fea­ture in the tour­na­ment next year and had hoped to rep­re­sent Tonga in Japan.

How­ever, the for­mer All-Black has been given the bad news by the Ton­gan coach Toutai Kefu.

Kefu said: “It got ruled out a cou­ple of months ago.

“We were ac­tively ex­plor­ing a group of play­ers, not just Charles, that were in the same boat and whether we could qual­ify them be­fore the World Cup, and we can’t.

“First of all they’ve got to sit out three years, which Charles has, and a group of other guys have.

“The next process is we have to qual­ify them in an Olympic qual­i­fy­ing Sevens tour­na­ment and the only one that’s avail­able to us is af­ter the World Cup.

“We looked into try­ing to move that tour­na­ment to be­fore the World Cup and were un­suc­cess­ful in do­ing that.”

Mean­while, Bears as­sis­tant coach Conor McPhillips says Bris­tol won’t be tak­ing to­mor­row’s op­po­si­tion, La Rochelle, lightly at Ash­ton Gate.

The Bears de­feated Le­ices­ter Tigers 41-10 at the week­end but McPhillips ex­pects a dif­fi­cult chal­lenge from the French side.

“La Rochelle have taken the Top 14 by storm in the last cou­ple of years and they are a mas­sive counter at­tack team,” he said.

“They love to throw the ball around, they’ve got a good back three and half-backs, in­clud­ing Taw­era Kerr-Bar­low, who has played for the All Blacks.

“So, I think they are slightly dif- fer­ent to your av­er­age French team. They’re still mas­sive, but I think they play with a lot more ball in hand, so that is a big fo­cus for us. We don’t want to kick loosely, and when we do kick, we need to get our chase right.

“It’s a chance to de­velop our game fur­ther, but we’ll be aim­ing for a quar­ter-fi­nal in Europe and that’s some­thing we’ll def­i­nitely be fo­cused on.”

Mat Protheroe says he is ready to get out there again hav­ing missed nearly 11 months with a knee in­jury.

He said: “It’s a long sea­son, so I’ll hope­fully get some op­por­tu­nity as it pro­gresses. When that chance does come, I’ll be ready to take it.

“I ex­pe­ri­enced play­ing at Ash­ton Gate in front of our amaz­ing sup­port­ers last sea­son, so I can’t wait for that chance to come around again.

McPhillips added: “All go­ing well, Mat Protheroe and Luke Daniels will be com­ing back from longterm in­juries. Mat (Protheroe) played 40 min­utes against Har­lequins in the Premier­ship Shield at the week­end, and he came through that re­ally well, so he’ll be up for se­lec­tion in the back three.

“He’s been train­ing ex­cel­lently in the last month and he’s champ­ing at the bit. So, for all in­volved, coaches, S&C, med­i­cal, they will all have big smiles on their faces see­ing Proth out there.”

Pic­ture: Harry Trump/Getty Im­ages

Bris­tol Bears’ Charles Pi­u­tau is tack­led by Le­ices­ter’s Tatafu Polota-Nau dur­ing last week­end’s Gal­lagher Premier­ship match at Ash­ton Gate

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